‘Trust Us,’ They Say
You’ve all heard those words “trust me” at one time or another in your life. I don’t know about you, but when I hear those words uttered, I want to back up against a wall so my wallet doesn’t get taken. In any case, that appears to be what our mayor and city council are saying (trust us); maybe not verbally, but in their actions and refusal to listen to the will of the people. Instead of government of, by, and for the people, we seem to have government “of, by, and over” the people. One of the people I email copies of my “letters to the editor” to recently responded to one of those letters by saying, and I paraphrase “…it matters not to them that others (taxpayers) pay for their grandiose memorials and monuments…” I believe that individual spoke volumes in those few words.
One would think that small town politics would be focused on providing essential services — police, fire, water, sewage, garbage collection, etc. — and enacting and collecting only enough taxes and fees to support those essential services. However, somewhere along the line it seems our elected officials have taken it upon themselves to buy up property to support their vision(s) of breathing new life into a declining downtown area. Any way you cut it, taking our hard-earned tax dollars in a wasteful attempt to re-invent Wheeling is not acceptable, in my opinion. My most recent letter to the editor focused on the administration of the city’s fire service fee. In the letter, I noted it was not being applied, and/or fairly applied, to certain individuals and commercial property owners. The city took issue with my findings, but have failed to answers the questions that they directed me to put in writing, and that was submitted to them in late March. More clearly stated, if all of us are required to pay for this service, while some pay nothing at all, those lucky beneficiaries are getting something for nothing at the expense of the rest of us.
Shifting gears, this can also fall under the “trust us” heading. An out of state banking institution (Unified Bank) approached the city in an effort to have two parcel(s) of land in a residential neighborhood re-zoned so they could build a branch bank. The people in that neighborhood (Lenox) said they didn’t want it (as witnessed by speaking out and submitting a petition signed by 160 residents). The zoning board as a subcommittee to the Planning Commission concurred with the citizens and recommended denial of the request. End of story? Not so fast, say the mayor and city council, we have the final say and we can overrule the Planning Commission recommendation. If they overrule and grant the zone change, it will be another example of “trust us,” we know what’s best for you and your neighborhood. Paraphrasing from a Heritage Foundation article, “the message seems to be; go ahead and vote for whatever you want, but we, the mayor and city council, will decide whether you’ve made the right choice.”
I’ve drawn the conclusion that the mayor and city council don’t trust their constituents to make sensible and informed decisions on how to spend, or not spend, their tax dollars. Subsequent to writing this letter (I’ve revised and re-submitted), I read an article in Wednesday’s paper that representatives of Unified Bank held their own public meeting with residents of the Lenox area. Two things I find interesting that came out of that meeting. First, the representatives (attorney) stated they couldn’t reveal the name of the bank because of it’s charter, and second, they asked the news media to leave at some point during the meeting so they could talk to the assembled residents, without the news media being able to report on what transpired. Representatives of our city council were present for the public presentation and the following secret (what else could you call it) meeting. I had a concerned citizen call me and they stated, and I quote; “the fix is in, this is Wheeling, what else would you expect.
Hope springs eternal.